The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that e-cigarettes should be banned indoors as they are concerned that it can be as toxic to others as traditional cigarettes.
Health experts have warned that although the device releases vapour rather than smoke, it still fills the air with harmful chemicals.
There are currently no bans on using the device indoors and many smokers make use of it to try and quit smoking as they still obtain the nicotine they crave, but it does not have the carcinogens which are linked to inhaling smoke.
However, the WHO has questioned the safety of the devices, which are officially known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
The report released by the WHO stated that although the aerosol exhaled by the user of the device is generally lower than that of combusted tobacco, it does not imply that it is acceptable to bystanders who are involuntarily exposed to it. The risks may be increased by ENDS where the toxicant levels are the same as that produced by normal cigarettes.
Some of the early studies which were done indicated that e-cigarettes may be more effective to aid in smoking cessation than nicotine patches or gum. However, the report has recommended that manufacturers should be prevented from marketing e-cigarettes as an effective method to quit smoking until such time as they have provided adequate scientific evidence to back their claims.
The organisation has asked for sales of the devices to be banned to those under the age of 18 and that vending machines should be removed from almost all the current locations.
This report from the WHO has been welcomed by health officials.
The Faculty of Public Health’s Professor John Ashton said most adults commence smoking before they reach the age of 18. It is for this reason that many health experts are concerned that advertising electronic cigarettes may make the habit appear glamorous, when it is not.
He said that there is insufficient evidence about the side effects and harms of using e-cigarettes and it will be years before there is any clarity on it.
Anti-smoking campaigners have however stated that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco and have issued warnings about placing restrictions on its sale and use.
The director of policy and research at Action on Smoking and Health, Hazel Cheeseman, said there was no evidence that the use of the devices caused harm to bystanders. She said smoking kills around 100000 people in Britain alone and smokers who switch to these device, either partially or wholly, are likely to reduce the risk to their health.
A study which was published during last year by the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority showed that the indoor air quality was worsened by vaping as it increased the level of nicotine, aluminium and particulates.
A ban on indoor use of e-cigarettes is not being considered by the Department of Health, however it is planning to ban the sale of the devices to those under the age of 18.
Image Credit: Lindsay Fox